Award Date

August 2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Committee Member

Simon Gottschalk

Second Committee Member

Barb Brents

Third Committee Member

Michael Borer

Fourth Committee Member

David Dickens

Fifth Committee Member

Lynn Comella

Number of Pages

236

Abstract

Drawing on qualitative research with personal style bloggers, I examine how contemporary social conditions impact the parameters for the presentation of self in gendered ways. I relate these changes to the struggle for recognition in the face of social anxieties and a lack of stable referents for the self. Bloggers are encouraged to think of themselves as brands. The discourse of self-branding promises greater control over one’s image and life chances, but the practice of presenting a cohesive self-brand to an unseen audience destabilizes the self and increases bloggers’ risk of discreditation and invalidation. Bloggers manage their brands through the performance of microcelebrity, whereby bloggers balance the tension between presenting a self the audience perceives as both authentic and blog-worthy, or worthy of visibility. This reproduces inequalities, as bloggers whose bodies are more intelligible within the field of fashion are more readily perceived as worthy of visibility. The strategies which govern the public presentation of self on digital platforms are emblematic of postfeminist gender politics that frame women as ideal self-regulating, self-governing, entrepreneurial subjects. I examine how male style bloggers perform hybrid masculinities while engaging in feminized self-work. Male style bloggers incorporate elements of femininities and subordinated masculinities in their performance of gender. For straight male bloggers, these hybrid masculinities strengthen their claims to masculinity in ways which ultimately reinforce gender and sexual differences. Ultimately, the cultural impetus toward visibility destabilizes the self and reproduces inequalities regarding which selves are seen as worthy of being seen.

Keywords

Blogging; Branding; Fashion; Hypermodernity; Masculinity; Self

Disciplines

Sociology

Language

English


Included in

Sociology Commons

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